Heirloom, n, (1) : a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance, (2) something of special value handed on from one generation to another
(The necklace in the picture above was a gift to me the Christmas before last by my other Nana. I am also very close to that Nana, my Dad's mom. Her name is Sara (Sara Virginia, actually) and I am Sara Abigail. Nana received the necklace from her Aunt Sara and wanted me to have it and eventually give it to Eliza, whose full name is Sara Elizabeth.
I love the necklace for a lot of reasons, but especially for the words Nana spoke to me when I opened it. Nana is not nearly as emotional as Dad and I are, but I could see the tears rolling down her cheeks and hear the lump in her throat as she said, "I have always felt like my cup runneth over, and yours does, too. I hope this pitcher always reminds you of the fullness in your life."
And so whenever I wear it, I am reminded of the blessing of abundant love.)
I just got back from a quick trip to Nana's. She is home and definitely stable, but sleeping a lot. It was hard to leave her yesterday, but I am grateful for any time I can get.
Nana has always been a meticulous house keeper. Actually, she's just a good 'keeper' in general. I don't think she has ever thrown anything away. I start to panic when I think about the amount of stuff in her basement, closets, under the beds, in the garage, kitchen cabinets, etc... but I am just not going to worry about that tonight.
At some point during our visit, Nana told me to take her wedding rings and her silver with me when I left.
"There are so many people in and out, honey. I'm afraid they'll disappear," she said.
And so I did. I spent about an hour packing up some of the things I wouldn't want to lose. Some pictures and old letters, my great-grandmother's silver, Nana's rings. (And the gun she threatened to shoot her caregiver with. If she gets better, I don't want her using it on the hospice nurses!)
It is amazing to me how long some of these family heirlooms have lasted. Nana has china that is already over a hundred years old. And not just one surviving plate- there are still eight functioning dinner plates. As I was packing it up, I felt a little overwhelmed at the burden of not breaking it so that one day I can pass it on to my grandchildren.
The funny thing is that I don't even like great-aunt Lizzie's china. What I love about it is that I always ate on it at Nana's kitchen table. It reminds me of many a tea party with both my grandparents in attendance. Using it in my house one day will be an open door to teaching my girls about their Nana.
It's not the things themselves that have value. It's the people they connect us to. The people we have loved and lost. The people we are trying to hold on to for just a little bit longer.
But even if those plates miraculously survive another hundred years, they aren't going to last forever. One day the last plate will shatter.
Diamond rings get misplaced, silver tarnishes beyond repair.
Nothing on this earth is permanent.
Even the stories that give meaning to family heirlooms eventually get forgotten or confused as they are passed from one generation to the next.
Thankfully Nana's legacy isn't the house she's kept so neatly or the items that have been impeccably cared for. Most of those items will be lucky to last another generation, much less forever.
Nana's legacy will be her faith.
I will always remember the hours she spent every night reading her Bible. (and the hours she spent trying to get my four-year-old mind to memorize even the simplest of verses.)
I will hold in my heart her example of leaning on the Lord during hard times. Nana has walked many a mile in the valley of the shadow, but she has never lost sight of the source of true Hope.
These beliefs are the most valuable things I will carry out of Nana's house in the coming months, and they are the only ones that are permanent.
To be honest, I don't really care if my kids will one day inherit Nana's silver or Poppy's extensive collection of tools.
But I do care about their eternal inheritance. About passing on the things that really matter.
I love beautiful things just as much as the next person. Honestly, maybe even more. But what I pray my kids remember about me is how much I loved them and how much I loved the Lord.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." Matthew 6:19-20.
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:5
"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
And just because I thought it was funny... this is how Wills is teaching Eliza to eat string cheese.